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Electric Furnaces

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    DURING last year the use of electricity for the melting and heat treatment of iron and steel in Great Britain considerably increased. There has been a revival in the demand for arc furnaces, a number of which, varying in capacity from 500 to 6,000 kilowatts, are being installed. In the Electrical Review of April, Mr. D. Campbell states that the furnaces ordered from a single manufacturing company during last year would consume about a 100 million electric units a year. The cost of the annual power bill for these furnaces alone would be about £200,000. A furnace of 6,000 kilowatt capacity, probably the largest electric melting unit in Europe, has just begun operation in Sheffield. Within its small area of furnace hearth (13 ft. diameter), as much energy is consumed per day as the aggregate loads of Cambridge, Salisbury and Tonbridge. Unfortunately, the requirements of larger and interconnected power stations make it essential to install higher rupturing capacity switch-gear, and this constitutes a heavy charge on small firms which may want to use electric furnaces. Seeing that the cost of the energy consumed by the furnace during its average life (ten years) is about thirty times the original cost of the complete installation, the companies should offer attractive conditions to steel manufacturers. The extreme purity of arc furnace steel owing to the absence of slag inclusions is now generally recognized, and for many types of forging this steel is specified. The choice between high-frequency furnaces and are furnaces is difficult to make. Although the capital expenditure for high-frequency furnaces is much higher, yet when melting operations only are required they are cheaper to work.

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